More

This Australian guy is buying 300 charter buses for an incredible reason.

100,000 homeless folks. 300 busses. And one simple solution.

In 1993, Simon Rowe hit hard times, and the only place he had to sleep at night was his car.

Two decades later, and no longer homeless, Rowe started looking for a way to give people who are homeless in Melbourne, Australia — like he had been — a place to lay their heads at night.

He explored a bunch of options, and eventually he decided to buy a charter bus, which he’s calling the Sleep Bus.


Rowe in his first bus. All photos from Sleep Bus, used with permission.

Rowe plans to use a fleet of more than 300 buses to aid Australia’s struggling homeless population.

Over 100,000 people are homeless in Australia right now, and more than 6,000 don’t have a place to sleep. Sleep Bus will hopefully provide these folks with private temporary living spaces to rest while they get on their feet again.

Image by Sleep Bus, used with permission.

To fund his passion project, Simon set up a GoFundMe campaign to scrounge up the funds for his first bus.

Within a month’s time, the campaign received donations from all across the globe. Wildly, they raised not only enough money for the first bus, but they're very close to fully funding their pilot program too, which Simon plans to launch in June 2016.

Sleep Bus is similar to a shelter, but with some key differences.

The Sleep Bus is designed to give every occupant their own personal space. Every bus will have 22 sleep pods, two toilets, a personal locker for each guest, eight kennels for animals, and a security system.

Parents will also be given control over the lock of their children’s pods, and there will be an intercom system between them. The bus’s mobility will also allow it to set up camp wherever people who are homeless congregate, as homeless populations tend to change with the seasons.

As for the pods, they’re set up more like hotel rooms than shelters — and that’s a good thing.

Each pod will be outfitted with its own freshly washed linens, a charging station for electronics, a door with a lock that each guest will have control over, climate control, and a television. In addition to regular programming, the TVs in the pods will have a special channel running ads for local support services.

“The TV is strategic, the TV is to help people stay calm, stay quiet ... but it’s also about connection as well,” Rowe explained. “It’s for that connection — to catch up on the news, or shows they used to watch, or to find out what’s happening in the world that they may have missed. To start them thinking on the path out of homelessness.”

But a place to sleep is, of course, only one piece of the puzzle that is homelessness.

Rowe acknowledges that Sleep Bus is just one solution to one problem for people who are homeless. They also need clothing, food, somewhere to shower, a pathway to permanent shelter, and — as Rowe pointed out — hygiene products for women. “As a man, I’d never thought of that before,” he admitted.

But he also hopes that the buses will be a good place to start, especially because a good night’s rest is a stepping stone toward aiding the even bigger issue of mental illness among the homeless.

Some reports indicate that in Australia up to 85% of folks without a home suffer from severe mental illness. Lack of sleep tends to make existing mental health conditions worse, and some symptoms of mental health problems can be alleviated by sleep. This makes resources like the Sleep Bus an important piece in solving the problem that is homelessness.

Sleep Bus has a lot of potential — but it all starts with that first bus.

There’s still a lot of work to do until the first buses launch in June, but that hasn’t deterred Rowe in the slightest. In fact, the short timeline seems to have energized him.

"Perhaps a young lad has problems with mom and dad, ends up out on the street,” Rowe said, "We'll catch this person. They won't fall deeper into the cycle of homelessness."

Simon hard at work converting his new bus into a Sleep Bus.

Rowe's unique idea for helping people "sleeping rough" on the streets is one filled with hope, and it has resonated with thousands of people already.

If you're interested in learning more and potentially helping Sleep Bus, you can consider donating on Rowe's GoFundMe page.

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
True

It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

When people think of the Deep South, especially in states like Mississippi, most people don't imagine a diverse and accepting way of life. People always look at me as if I've suddenly sprouted a unicorn horn when I reminisce on my time living in Biloxi and the eclectic people I've met there, many of whom I call friends. I often find myself explaining that there are two distinct Mississippis—the closer you get to the water, the more liberal it gets. If you were to look at an election map, you'd see that the coast is pretty deeply purple while the rest of the state is fire engine red.

It's also important to note that in a way, I remember my time in Biloxi from a place of privilege that some of my friends do not possess. It may be strange to think of privilege when it comes from a Black woman in an interracial marriage, but being cisgendered is a privilege that I am afforded through no doing of my own. I became acutely aware of this privilege when my friend who happens to be a transgender man announced that he was expecting a child with his partner. I immediately felt a duty to protect, which in a perfect world would not have been my first reaction.

It was in that moment that I realized that I was viewing the world through my lens as a cisgendered woman who is outwardly in a heteronormative relationship. I have discovered that through writing, you can change the narrative people perceive, so I thought it would be a good idea to sit down with my friend—not only to check in with his feelings, but to aid in dissolving the "otherness" that people place upon transgender people.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo from Dole
True

As you sit down to eat your breakfast in the morning or grab an afternoon snack, take a minute to consider your food, how it was made, and how it got to your plate.

The fruit on your plate were grown and picked on farms, then processed, packaged and sent to the grocery store where you bought them.

Sounds simple, right?

The truth is, that process is anything but simple and at every step in the journey to your plate, harm can be caused to the people who grow it, the communities that need it, and the planet we all call home.

For example, thousands of kids live in food deserts and areas where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited. Around the world, one in three children suffer from some form of malnutrition, and yet, up to 40% of food in the United States is never eaten.

Keep Reading Show less

I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

Keep Reading Show less